Everything is Oll Korrect!

An eclectic bibliophile's journal…

Tag: Tanigawa Nagaru

Kafka on the Shore (75 Books – X)

The one benefit of having a very long commute to work each day is that it allows one to get through a lot of audiobooks and podcasts. Not that I actually listen to a lot of audiobooks, admittedly, mainly because I like to mark up my books and share interesting passages on twitter as I go. They do benefit from professional narration, though, like a radio play, and poetry especially benefits from being read out loud. Of course, audiobooks are also a distraction while driving, though if I do get into an auto accident at least I’ll go out listening to something good.

Anyway, Kafka on the Shore is the first book I’ve read (listened to? whatever) by Murakami Haruki. The book starts with a fifteen-year-old boy running away from home, and at first one thinks this will be a realistic story about a runaway. By the time one gets to the old man who talks with cats and fish raining from the sky it’s pretty clear that this isn’t that sort of novel, though perhaps it does qualify as magical realism, since these things are dealt with straightforwardly and relatively realistically. The boy, who takes the name “Kafka,” takes up about half the novel in first-person narration, while the intertwined other half has a third-persona narrator, focusing on the old man, Nakata, and his backstory.…

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On the Hobby of Collecting Hobbies

One consistent problem I’ve had throughout most of my life is that my principal hobby is collecting hobbies. Almost everything is interesting to me, and my shelves are stuffed with books of literature, history, philosophy; DVDs and glorious blu-rays of film and animation; plenty of music and comics. If I had the time, I’d get into even more – theatre, fine arts, sports, cuisine, and who knows what else.

So much dabbling does have its advantages. There are few people with whom I can’t find some common interest, provided it’s not too obscure – and even then, there’s a decent chance I’ll at least be aware of what they’re talking about. Having a wide field of reference also helps when dealing with authors or directors who also have a wide field of reference, whether I’m reading through T.S. Eliot’s tangles of allusions or Tanigawa Nagaru’s off-hand references in the Haruhi novels.

It also allows me to be especially selective as far as what I read and watch. The majority of the books I read, the films I watch, the albums I listen to, and so on, are at least memorable. Of course, it’s also possible that I don’t have as much appreciation for the excellent since I don’t have as much mediocre content to compare it to, but for now I’m content with the selective approach to media.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of free time, so even though I have a working knowledge of so many topics, that knowledge tends to be fairly shallow. So, for example, I watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica as it came out, and though I enjoyed it, much of the discussion of the show centred on how it relates to other magical girl shows. I had nothing to say on that, because I can count the number of magical girl anime and comics I’ve experienced on one hand. I did catch the Faust references, though.

I’ve occasionally considered focusing my attention almost entirely to just one, maybe two fields, but have never seriously attempted this. As much as I respect those who have an encyclopedic knowledge of a particular subject, I find the world too fascinating to devote myself to just one aspect of it. So, I continue to run about in circles, in a mental equivalent of getting a free sample of every item at the supermarket without actually buying enough of any one thing to make a full meal.…

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Associations of The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya

The American release of Tanigawa Nagaru’s Haruhi Suzumiya novels are in the home stretch, with the recent release of The Dissociation of Haruhi Suzumiya. It’s the first of a two-part story, to be concluded in the next and last novel, so I’ll hold off on a full review. There were, however, a few things I found interesting with this one.

The most obvious feature of this novel is that the narrative splits halfway through, and what occurs over the next few days differs significantly between the two versions. Though there is some overlap between the two, the differences aren’t subtle like, say, the “Endless Eight” story arc from a few volumes back. I don’t see any hint as to how these two parallel timelines may relate to each other, except that Kyon, our intrepid narrator, does mention not having encountered a slider yet near the beginning of the book. Is it time for one to finally appear?

Another thing is that every member of the SOS Brigade now has a counterpart, including Haruhi. The newly introduced Sasaki makes an interesting foil for her, though it’s not apparent at first that they have anything in common. Sasaki is far more reserved, formal, and logical-thinking than Haruhi. However, I suspect that Sasaki shares Haruhi’s dissatisfaction with how the world isn’t quite amazing. In a conversation Kyon remembers having with her a couple of years prior, she mentions that “Reality is not constructed the way your favorite movies, TV shows, novels, or comics are. And it’s unsatisfying.” She goes on to explain why fiction and reality can’t operate in the same way (and as a side note, her speech reminds me somewhat of Koizumi’s digressions), and later on she also says “I always want to be rational and logical, no matter the time or place. To accept reality as it is, emotional or sentimental thinking is nothing more than an obstruction.”

She’s so formal, though, that I suspect that this is just a mask, and other people sense this. Kunikida talks to Kyon about her briefly, and comments, “[W]hen people call me strange, I don’t understand it. But she does understand [when people call her ‘strange’], and she fits herself into that frame. I get the sense that she’s very careful not to go past its edges.” Why does she do this? My guess is that she’s had the same realisation of how mundane the world is, and how she’s a tiny part of it, but whereas Haruhi’s reaction is to rebel against the world, completely disregarding what others think, she’s decided to simply accept the world as it is.

Is one approach better than the other? I’d guess that that question will factor heavily in the next book, and I’m looking forward to reading what sort of answer Tanigawa provides.…

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